Changing News Forever

Its letters are iconic, its founder eccentric, its impact undeniable.

When it officially debut at 5 pm on June 1, 1980 as the world’s first 24-hour news channel, Ted Turner’s Cable News Network (CNN) changed broadcasting and “news” reporting forever.

It was the only television channel to have live coverage of the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster in 1986 and their coverage made “Baby Jessica” a member of everyone’s family,

CNN’s expanded coverage of the first Gulf War made it the most watched news channel and ultimately reduced the significance of the “big three” network’s hold on news. An estimated one billion worldwide viewers would watch their coverage.

Some have even theorized that CNN’s 24-hour coverage of the war may have changed American military strategy. Understanding the public’s reaction to the coverage, generals and politicians must now manage the media (and wars) differently than they have in the past.

So, like we said… the networks impact is definitely undeniable.

Today, CNN’s world headquarters in downtown Atlanta is only a small part of the company’s global reach which includes almost forty global news bureaus, nearly 1,000 affiliated stations and several regional and foreign-language networks. Today, HNL News and Views (formerly Headline News), CNN’s international news desk and CNN En Espanol are broadcast, and is managed, in Atlanta.

Though we’re not regular CNN watchers we do love our, and today, we were going to see the inner workings, the nerve center of the world’s leading news network. Of course, we opted for the VIP tour, because, after all, we’re kinda big deals.

Our tour began with a trip up the world’s tallest free-standing escalator in the world – eight stories straight up to the floating globe. There, we entered a theater where our tour guide explained a live broadcast featuring queued screens with the director managing upcoming shots, directing graphics and explaining the news process.

Next we got a lesson on the Magic Wall, the station’s newest technology, made famous during the 2008 Presidential election. The Magic Wall is like a giant iPad to access almost any data quickly and cleanly – a live commentator (or weatherman’s) dream.

Then it was off to the HLN studio and a behind-the-scenes look at the news gathering process. Overall, well worth the $35 each, especially if you’re interested in how your news gets to you.

For more information or to order your tickets, click here.